October 28, 2002 12:00 PM

Elvis 30 #1 Hits
Elvis Presley (RCA)

Slinging hips and scarves with equal abandon, Elvis Presley tended to obscure the substance of his musical ability with the flamboyance of his style. But with this collection, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the King’s death, his longtime label RCA refocuses attention on his considerable artistry. These 30 hits—including non-U.S. No. 1s—show that if Presley didn’t invent rock and roll, he was certainly its first and best real salesman. Bringing the blues-and gospel-based style of black singers into the mainstream, Presley was his most affecting on such ballads as “Crying in the Chapel” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” He also had a uniquely vigorous, ingratiating touch with more frivolous rockabilly tunes like “Jailhouse Rock.” Even Elvis, though, wasn’t insusceptible to the occasional stinker like “Wooden Heart.” Still, these 30 varied hits—plus a remix of “A Little Less Conversation”—amply demonstrate how Presley grabbed American pop and left it all shook up.

Bottom Line: Long live the King

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